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With Levy Looming, Avon Lake Schools Begin Cuts

May levy appears likely.

Jan 8. Marked the first of three Avon Lake School Board Meetings that will determine, if the district should place a new levy on the May ballot, and if so, for how much.

At the meeting, the board laid out cuts that will happen regardless of whether the ask voters to approve a new levy.

Board president Charles Froehlich said there will be additional meetings on Jan 16 and 29 to continue discussions on the resolutions, which include costs-savings items.

The meetings will be held at 7 p.m. in the Avon Lake High School Media Room.

Froehlich said a health care committee comprised of administrators and teachers have proposed changes, including joining a consortium, that will net a savings of $700,000 per year, starting this month.

The district is also considering increasing pay-to-participate fees.

Other proposed savings include:

  • Cutting some capital expenditures, such as tables, chairs by $250,000 for the upcoming year.
  • Delaying the purchase of new textbooks to meet new state standards is being delayed to at least next year, maybe the year after for a savings of $850,000
  • The ALSD teaching staff voted last week to a two-year wage step freeze (0 percent wage increase) that will result in a savings of $893,000 over the next two years.
  • A reduction in field trips will save $15,000.
  • Combining buses for JV and varsity, which previously sent two buses for away will save $20,000.
  • Removing some building maintenance items will save $96,000
  • Closing the weight room in the mornings and evenings will save $16,000
  • The district will not renew “Study Island,” an online resource for students in grades K-8, saving the district $6,000.
  • Other savings are expected from electrical savings from cleaning all buildings at night as well as exploring alternate options for electrical, gas and water utilities.

“I have to give kudos to the staff for making such commitments,” Scott said, noting employees will be going for years without raises.

The district is also expecting to “RIF” (reduction in force) 10 full-time employees next year.

Last year, the districts workforce was reduced by 13, by not replacing employees who left the district.

“We’ve been not replacing people,” Scott said. “And the teachers have stepped up."

Scott noted most changes would affect the middle and high schools, since elementary school staffing levels were at the breaking point.

The district is trying to make adjustments with incomplete information.

“This (is based ) that the state (funding) isn’t going to be changed,” district treasurer Autumn Streng said, noting the state of Ohio has not yet set its budget.

Also looming is the closing of the GenOn plant, which is expected to close in April 2015.

May levy likely

After the failure of the the district will need to decide if a May levy is needed, and if so, for how much.

The district is looking at two options for a 10-year levy. Streng said the 10-year option is the result of the power plant shutting down in 2015.

“We don’t want to keep coming back,” she said.

Froehlich said tentatively, the board is looking at two options:  A levy that would collect $6.3 million annually, which would result in an approximate 7.95-mill levy or a levy that would collect $6.9 million annually. The second option would result in voters seeing an approximate 8.71-mill levy at the May ballot. Millage would need to be certified by the Lorain County Auditor’s Office.

Streng said a decision would be needed by the end of January, which is why the board will be hosting two more meetings.

Board members stressed that all information presented at the Jan. 8 meeting was preliminary and no votes have been taken on any of the cuts yet.

Board member Ron Jantz said the cuts were likely moving forward regardless of whether a levy was placed on the ballot.

rgnocp38 January 10, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Thing is... people want free school and don't think about who will pay for it. Even if the cost per pupil were half what it is now, very few property owners would pay even half of what it costs to educate even one child in their household through taxes to the schools. Those with more than one child or a child receiving special ed. services will be receiving quite a subsidy. Fact is, it costs money to educate and many want a free ride.
rgnocp38 January 10, 2013 at 01:47 PM
You need to speak with the Avon Lake Superintendent because you don't have all of the information. Avon is not the same district as Avon Lake and if you look closely you would see that. Education costs just like everything else but, unlike everything else, there is never a decrease in "business" activity unless enrollment goes down. Avon does not have the track record that Avon Lake does. You only have superficial information.
rgnocp38 January 10, 2013 at 01:51 PM
Voters approved bonds for construction. Operating costs are paid for separately. This is the biggest misunderstanding with those trying to make this point. The district asks the community if they would like to fund these things and they said yes with a bond issue approval. They know very well that operating levies are separate issues and that they expire, come up for renewal, or like everything else, require an increase in funding. Trying to tie in construction with learning doesn't make sense since they are approved separately. Your SS taxes didn't go up, they just went back to where they had been before Obama gave you a gift at the expense of every other taxpayer.
Bill Gallagher January 10, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Keep in mind the bus gargage was paid for by the federal grant money. We could not use these funds for day to day operations, it had to be for capital improvments.
rgnocp38 January 10, 2013 at 01:55 PM
You are correct Kristen! Although taxes have gone up, as I said below, no parent will every pay what it cost to educate even one child in property taxes on most houses in Avon Lake. I don't think most realize that someone has to pay for it and that empty nesters had someone pay for their children. The knee-jerk reaction to just start bashing the schools instead of evaluating what each has done to contribute to the education of their children. Most who whine about where money goes will never make an honest call to a school official to make sure they have the correct information.
Kathy January 10, 2013 at 02:01 PM
A big 'thank you' to the teachers of ALCS....not only do they do a wonderful job every day but they are also helping to keep the layoffs to a minimum!
rgnocp38 January 10, 2013 at 02:01 PM
The bus garage has also enabled the AL district to save money in various ways. The superintendent outlined these various cost-savings at a meeting in the fall at the library.
Tom January 10, 2013 at 02:44 PM
The grade report cards Avon Lake has a all a huge lie anyway. The only thing Avon Lake has is great teachers. As far as everything else goes, all the high tech at the high school; the multiple large screen televisions, new computers, the fancy stadium, the important looking new signs and all of the other fancy upgrades they've made are just a cover for all of the horrors going on inside. The drug sales, the drinking and the drug use that is running ramped through the school. The bullying, which has become completely out of control. They even put in a bullying hotline which goes ignored! Fix the real issues here, then maybe I would vote for a levy!!!
George Z January 10, 2013 at 03:23 PM
I continue to hear from the "pro-levy" folks that the bus garage / stadium is separate. As far as the district is concerned, yes. As far as me, it all comes from my wallet. It's a tax and since we the taxpaying citizens of AL have said NO 2X already to "we're broke, give us more". It seems since AL has a significant higher rate than Avon, maybe they have more than their fair share. I will probably go to one of the meetings. I'd really like to ask the board that question and see if I get a tap dancing baloney answer or a logical one. Being that payroll (incl bene's, etc) make up 70%+ of the budget, I think we know the answer.
Bill January 10, 2013 at 04:20 PM
It is about time people start voting against the school levies. Every time you turn around Avon Lake Schools put another levy on the ballot. Quit comparing Avon Lake to Bay Village , they are in another county, compare them to other Lorain County Schools and you will see Avon Lake tax payers have been more than generous. Time to cut some FAT in the budget !
Mary January 10, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Can someone please explain to me why AL School District provides transportation to private schools outside of the school district? I can understand vocational schools but to schools such as St. Raphael's in Bay, Trinity & St. Mary's in Avon, St. Paul in Westlake, Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland, and a school Elyria. The parents of those children CHOOSE to send them to those schools. If it were a state mandate, every school district in Ohio would be doing it and they are not. I went to a private school and the city I grew up in did not provide bus service to private schools within or outside the school district. Also, there are many children living less than 1/2 mile from where their children go to school (with the exception of those crossing rt 83 and Walker Rd) that are utitlizing bus services that should not be. I am just curious and I really don't want to vote for another levy when money is being wasted on bus service.
ALsupporter January 10, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Yeah, let's compare Avon Lake to some Lorain County Schools - like Lorain City? How about Elyria? Maybe Sheffied? What school district do you suggest Bill? None of these districts compare to Avon Lake academically, people move to Avon Lake specifically for the schools. Avon Lake is the most searched community in Lorain County on real estate websites for this reason. Maybe you get what you pay for - it certainly works that way in real estate. Property values are much higher in AL than in any of those other Lorain County communities. Oh, Avon's price per student may be lower, but their student fees are higher. Just ask one of the parents - one of them told me the parents in Avon Lake have it easy as far as school fees go - looks like that may change...
Kathy January 10, 2013 at 06:54 PM
The parents of the children going to St. Raphael's, Trinity and St. Mary's are also paying property taxes to support AL public schools even though they are not utilizing the school system. I'm sure transporting the kids by bus to Avon or Bay Village costs a lot less than the taxes paid.
Kathy January 10, 2013 at 06:56 PM
The parents sending their kids to private schools in Avon and Bay Village pay property taxes to Avon Lake for the schools just like everybody else. I highly doubt the cost of sending a bus to Avon every day exceeds taxes being paid that are NOT being used to educate their children.
JohnB January 10, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Tom - Where did you go to school? Were all these bad things running ramps through your school too? When you want to make an argument that a school district is doing a bad job, it only proves your point wrong when you can't spell. Some of these things may be running "rampant" through our school, but that is no fault of the teachers or a reason to vote no on a levy. As a matter of fact, all these "ramps" seem to indicate we have the wrong element in our schools, and more money should be focused to prevent those issues.
JohnB January 10, 2013 at 07:24 PM
George - maybe they do have more than their fair share! Maybe they have 4x more than Lorain's share. Maybe 50x more than Cleveland's share. The point being that maybe your definition of "share" is different than mine, and thank God we get to vote on how much our shares are going to equate to at tax time. The one thing you do have a right to do as a tax paying citizen is lower your share by moving. If Avon is so good at handling these things - just move there. Do what you want on voting day - but Im voting to up my share. I came from the Highland school district in Medina County. Do a google search on taxes there. They make Avon Lake's share look like ice cream money. Im pretty sure if you had to pay taxes in that district you would fill your pants with more than "your share"
JohnB January 10, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Mary - I would pay to transport you outside the district! Money is not being wasted outside the district. For all the money we pay to educate your kids, we just have to drive theirs down the road. They are saving us money. We get all their money for the ride only. People wonder why the stock market goes crazy and businesses fail. The answer is people like you doing harder math problems than you should.
Tom January 10, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Oh, sorry for the typo John! I went to AL schools also! How much are they paying YOU for your comments? You going door to door too?
JohnB January 10, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Tom that wasn't a typo. That was a misuse of a word in your native language. There is a big difference from hitting the wrong key on the keyboard and using the wrong word. Some say the latter is more likely due to poor education. I'm sorry to hear that your rationale for the poor state of education in our district today is based on the fact that you went there too - and you're dumb. Again, that just does a poor job of defining your arguments. I would love to go door to door for the levy. Although I am afraid that I would be stuck in endless conversations with people like you and that would make we want to jump in the lake.
joe mama January 10, 2013 at 08:43 PM
time to tighten the people 800,000 in raises what are these fireman!!
Jim Brady January 10, 2013 at 08:54 PM
Double in 16 years - that's probably lower than the inflation rate and the change in cost of money.
Myron Thomas January 10, 2013 at 08:57 PM
Not the entire cost. Which is irrelevant. There was no dire need for that and or the new stadium that was supposed to bring new revenue, events, and so forth. Still haven't seen those EXTRA events.... They would have been smart to ask for operating money back then when they knew the devaluation of the elec. plant was already looming....
City of fake January 11, 2013 at 12:21 AM
The reason for the academic success has more to do with parental involvement and home environment than great teachers. I'd love to see these teachers work in Cleveland. The high school is filled with drug use and bullying with little penalties. The athletic director makes 118k with 2 secretaries and walks around all day. Until they release some support staff I won't be voting for the levy.
william January 11, 2013 at 02:37 AM
The amount of funding from the state is reduced because this student leaves the district. So the net value is much greater than the bus ride.
A Lifetime Resident of Avon Lake January 11, 2013 at 04:45 AM
The fact is people are taxed out.... period! If residents were able to allocate what their taxes were spent on, I am sure most people would be in favor of supporting local school levies above other activities. Unlike the federal government, we have to be responsible with our money and live on a finite budget. I am always intrigued by how schools and other government entities can find ways to cut costs when they are pressured to do so, but not until taxpayers demand accountability through the failure of a levy. As for the increase in property taxes versus the rate of inflation as mentioned above by Jim Brady, inflation has not doubled in the past 16 years, it has risen at less than 50% over this period. Teacher's unions have supported candidates at the national level which have recently increased the majority of Avon Lake resident's taxes....and then they ask us for more? Our taxes, which go to the schools, pay teacher's salaries, from which union dues (our tax money) is used to support candidates who continue to increase income taxes. There is a limit to the taxes we can bear, and unfortunately schools across this country, which rely on our taxes, will be negatively impacted.
Tin Idol January 11, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Ah... using "the kids" as "human shields" in an attempt to cut off any debate where those who HONESTLY FEEL that school levies should be weighted against other items taxpayers are being asked to approve. Some can't approve them all and stay within budget - so some items have to be evaluated against other taxes for non-school projects... yet the "human shields" have to suffer because "greedy people" want to save a few bucks on their taxes Actually, some seniors have their monthly finances calculated down to the last penny and cannot afford to vote ANY NEW TAXES for ANY PROJECT whether they are "school related" or "city related" like parks, sewers, etc. I'd like to know if the kids your asking us to finance are going to grow up to be like you, Kristen... ABC NEWS 20/20 did a story on "home contractors" and "pizza delivery" drivers murdering and raping customers (Google : "Ex-con contractors" + "ABC News") You'll find the City Council members in many towns CONSTRUCTIVELY SAYING, "we'll take the chance on another rape/murder AS OPPOSED TO increasing the cost of doing business" Are you saying the "suffering kids" are going to grow up to be like our Mayors and City Council members? ..because SOME may want to evaluate "school levies" against other projects that need taxing.
Dom Meo January 12, 2013 at 02:50 AM
To School Board President Froehilich: You need to start making small cuts even if they are not in the millions. 1) Cut sport teams completely, especially ones that do not pay for themselves a)Golf b) Lacrosse c) Swim Teams d) hockey teams e) tennis teams 2) Make more cuts in Busing, have more children walk or have their parents drive them 3) Make cuts in the Administration Sfatt a) Cut the Superintendent salary b) Eliminate the two High School Asst. Principals c) Eliminate the Asst Principal at Lear Wood d) Reduce the salary of the Athletic Director $102,169. With the eliminating the abovc sport teams you could reduce his salary by 25% e) Combine the Administrative Assistant job with eliminating a secretary job. This school district is not what they are telling you. Drug Sales, Drinking, Drug use is running ramped. Bullying is out of control. Ask any student at the High School and they will confirm the above and off the record so will some teachers
Dumb Meo January 12, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Hey Dom - do you think if you asked the students use the word "ramped" in a sentence correctly they could? Why is it that all you people who think they can run the school board better than they elected members can't spell? To Don Meo you need to start making changes too! 1) educate yourself before criticizing educators
Unknown March 19, 2013 at 12:27 AM
A topic that seems to get brought up frequently revolves around the cost per student for Avon and Avon Lake. Here are some facts regarding this: *Avon Lake has a higher cost per student than Avon Approximately $10,800 to $7,100 *One of the factors in Avon having a low cost per student is their rapid growth. *75% of the Avon Teaching Staff have less than 10 years of experience *75% of the Avon Lake Teaching Staff have more than 10 years of experience *Avon Lake has reduced its teaching staff by 10% in the last 3 years *Avon Lake has 24 teachers retiring in the next 2 years Avon Lake’s cost per student is dropping and will continue to drop with a smaller staff and a younger staff
C Clay April 11, 2013 at 04:46 PM
I went to last nights meeting at Erieview, and as it would turn out- there were no anti-levi folks in attendance it seemed. I'm from a area of south with rapid growth similar to Avon but on a larger scale (a community with 100K+). I would NEVER vote for a tax increase because I never thought that the school system was articulate and persuasive in demonstrating the need. In my opinion, this school system is small enough that one can get all the information needed and make a decision to support the levy in a short time. If you think education is important to your community and that this school system's success promotes a greater quality of life for all citizens (regardless of age or children in school)- I think the board is clear that this is needed. If you are someone who is always going to bang the drum of "lower taxes" or "no tax increase"... there may not be any hope in convincing you anyway. All citizens should get the facts and VOTE this time- up or down!

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